Wednesday, September 09, 2009

UYS GuestBlog: Friendship Unleashed!

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter wins a choice of one of the books below!*

From Michelle:
As if the prizes for participants in the Unleash Your Story Read/Write/Blog-a-Thon for Cystic Fibrosis (UYS) aren't enough to get you psyched, today, Teresa Bodwell -- whom some call the 'heart' of UYS, is here to intro you to her fellow event organizers/cheerleaders/all-around-caring chicks. Participation is down a little this year -- and we need your help -- so make the choice to join UYS in some way. It's not too late! And welcome the RU friends with your warmest, "Lay some gal-pal wow on us" Bella buongiorno...

From Teresa: Greetings Bellas! And special thanks to all of you who have joined Michelle B's UYS team. I've been elected to tell you the story behind the Unleash Your Story. Some of my fellow Romance Unleashed (RU) authors will chime in later, too.

Have you ever bonded with someone you met in the midst of some life-changing event? For me it was Army boot camp and the first year of law school. Then again a few years ago when my debut book was published and I landed on the careening roller coaster we call the publishing world. Luckily, I stumbled upon several other women with tickets to the same rickety amusement park ride. Together we formed a sisterhood we call Romance Unleashed.

Scattered across the U.S. and Canada, we fly our magic carpets through cyberspace to visit regularly. (I'm sure the Bellas can relate to the idea of meeting people digitally). Naturally, RU authors share the triumphs and frustrations of the publishing business. But our friendship goes beyond business. We've experienced the joy of a new baby, mourned the deaths of several of our parents, worried over each other in times of illness and injury. And we've become honorary aunties to all the children in the group—sharing pride in their accomplishments and worrying when they are sick or troubled.

When we learned our friend Lori Devoti's kids have cystic fibrosis, we knew cyber-hugs and kisses weren't enough. But how could a bunch of writers make a difference?

It's easy to feel helpless when faced with a fatal disease.We can't be there for the daily treatments and piles of medications. All we can do is raise money to kick this disease into submission.

We knew the online reading and writing community was packed with generous people who would want to help these kids and tens of thousands of others living with cystic fibrosis. So we created the write/read-a-thon. This year, thanks to Michelle B's suggestion we have bloggers going at it as well.

We invite everyone to harness the power of friendship by forming teams to encourage one another to meet their goals. Last year Unleash Your Story raised over $11,000. With your help, we hope to raise even more this year.

Have you experienced some event or activity that turned a group of strangers into tight friends? What's the craziest thing you've ever done to help a friend?

*Lora Leigh/Heat Seeker; Laurel K Hamilton/Skin Trade; KM Moning/Faefever
Join Michelle B's UYS Team or start your own w/the info here! She's drawing a winner for a 12-pack of new romances from among her team members raising $75 or more. Top earner on Michelle B's Team scores a 24-pack of new romances.


Stacy~ said...

Hi Teresa! I remember participating last year, and it was a lot of fun, for a good cause too.

I think stuff like this usually brings all kinds of different people together. People are passionate about wanting to help others. Gotta love that.

Hope you beat that $11k raised last year.

Teresa Bodwell said...

Thanks, Stacy. We appreciate the support!

Teresa Bodwell said...

And I should add for Stacy and anyone else who may think it's too late to join the 2009 event--we are still accepting registrations.

Actually participation is somewhat down from last year and we really need more participants if we hope to reach our goal. Whether you can participate for the last three weeks, or even for one week--you can make a difference in the lives of those living with cystic fibrosis and the generations to come who (we hope) will have the benefit of a cure.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas, and welcome Teresa and Romance Unleashed authors! Thanks for joining us to share the UYS story -- and to talk pals.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

We loved having you, Stacy! It's a tough economy this year, but folks have been coming up w/some good ways to get folks to help in whatever way they can.

Teresa Bodwell said...


You're right about the tough economy. Every charity is feeling it. That's why our motto is a lot of people each doing a little bit. The more folks we can get involved, the more money we can raise.

Thanks for helping us spread the word.

BTW--are you going to announce your reading/blog writing totals for week 1?

Sally MacKenzie said...

Hello, Bellas! Another RU writer stopping by here.

What Teresa didn't say in her post is she just didn't "stumble upon" several other new writers--she's the one who brought us all together. It was a wonderful thing, as I was a total newbie. I'm certain I would have wandered alone in the publishing wilderness for quite a while if Teresa hadn't herded me in the right direction.

As to the craziest thing I've done to help a friend...I'll have to think about that. I do have a friend who knew I could write long before I was commercially published. She, like Teresa, also had many wonderful, crazy (to me) ideas. She "persuaded" me to write a script for our youngest kids' eighth grade graduation dinner, poking fun at many of the teachers, and videotape parts of it to show the day of the dinner. It was a lot of work, but it was fun. (And if anyone complained, I said it was all my friend's idea, lol!)

What I learned from this friend and Teresa is that it's ok to dream big. I hope you'll all join in our big dream to raise money to help beat CF.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Sally! Thanks for bringing your "Naked" self by to visit! Thanks for 'outing' Teresa on her friend-corralling madskills. It's fortunate -- or a blessing, if you'd like -- when we meet someone who's a gatherer, who brings people together and says, "hey, wanna be part of us, too?" And when the group welcomes us as one of theirs in some lovely, warm way, there's nothing more nourishing.

Love your school story; I'll be the kids and staff really enjoyed it and appreciated your work. Teachers are so busy, they tend to 'get' when a parent's gone out of her/his way for them.

It's so nice to hear about the support you and your fellow RU authors provide one another. When you're starting out and someone offers a hand, it's like a lifeline. And when those folks stick around for a long time, remain loyal, it's not just good, it's important. We all need folks in our business whom we can trust.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

OH, and Sally, you write:
What I learned from this friend and Teresa is that it's ok to dream big.

Brava. Of course, w/my inbred Italian fear of becoming too happy, I like to think about it as, "If you're going to fail, fail spectacularly!"

But that may just be me...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Teresa, I keep trying to answer your "what have you done for a friend," but all I come up with is thinking about how my friends seem always to be doing nice things for me.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

For instance, I'm really bad w/returning phone calls and staying in touch, and I seem to find friends who don't mind calling me and who continually reach out. That's a great gift to someone who spends so much time glued to the keyboard, as I'll be you guys know.

Teresa Bodwell said...

Michelle--just thinking about phone calls sends shivers up my spine. I hate phones. But this year I am forcing myself to make some because I'm in Ohio for the year and my BFF, Susan, is back in Montana.

What crazy things have I done for Susan? Well, for one thing I wrote her a story for her birthday. She liked it and told me I should be a romance writer, to which I basically said--I don't know what that is. My friend loaned me some of her keeper books and got me started as a romance reader and author.

So--I'm willing to do a lot for Susan. Since the 2010 RT convention is in Columbus, OH where I am temporarily living, I invited Susan to come. Unfortunately in describing the event, I mentioned Fairy Ball. Susan is a professional costumer and plans to make us costumes for the Fairy ball. Anyone who knows me knows that I would not voluntarily dress up a a fairy. But for Susan . . .

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hmmm...maybe I will go to RT next year...

Teresa Bodwell said...

Oh to be a vampire so I wouldn't show up on photos.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Teresa! Thanks for your email telling me how to deal with the donation check I received.

Are we supposed to post updates on our progress with writing word count and reading page counts?

And, oh, I so agree about the photos. I'm always tempted to go back to an anonymous icon!!

Teresa Bodwell said...

Hi Becke--

Please send your progress to me at:

I'll add it to our participants pages.

This brings up a good point about our participant pages. Participants can let me know if they're entered as a reader, blogger or author. And, if they have a website or blog, give me the URL and we will link to it.

Anyone who wants to show their support for their favorite author, reader or blogger can visit our participant pages and click on the "Donate here" link next to the participant's name. This link goes to that specific participant's donation page.

Or you can donate in support of a team instead of a specific participant. We have links for all the teams too. Just go to the linked page and scroll down.

Teresa Bodwell said...

I hope it's okay if I share something a little off topic. Working on Unleash Your Story has expended my knowledge of cystic fibrosis from pretty much zero, to just about enough to be dangerous. :-)

I mean it's one of those things I think you have to live to really know and I have never lived it. But I have been reading some blogs by people who do live it and the blog by a woman who calls herself Cystic Gal has really moved me. Her post today happens to be about sisterhood and friendship--so I recommend it to y'all.

The Reading Frenzy said...

Hi Teresa, and I ditto Becke thanks for the email update and all of you help with the donations that I've rec'd, they are right now winging their way to your door.

I have been incredibly lucky that I don't have friends or family members with grave diseases or conditions. So I've never really had to go through some of the pain and anguish of these people with Cystic Fibrosis. And the tightest group of strangers that became friends are my friends here on the web. I've met so many truly great people here and consider myself more blessed because of them and two of them are right here in Becke and Michelle.
Well back to reading ;-)

Sally MacKenzie said...

Back from the mall--trying on clothes. Ugh. I don't know who they make clothes for these days, but it doesn't seem to be me. We leave for a road trip to Maine next week--going to see the Maine RWAers--and I'm thinking what do I wear when it's cold? Here in D.C., it's still pretty warm.

I'm so excited because I'm going to RT next year and I'll get to see Teresa all dressed up for the Fairy Ball! Sorry, Teresa, but it boggles the mind. But then, I'm not much into costumes.

I think Teresa in fairy wings might be my giggle for the day.

Kristi Cook said...

Hi, Bellas--I'm another of the RU authors (waving madly to Teresa and Sally!), and I just want to say how *amazing* Teresa has been with all the planning/organizing of Unleash Your Story! As a completely disorganized person myself, I'm always in awe. :o)

Romance Unleashed was truly a lifeline for each of us when we first organized ourselves, and now I can't even imagine a day without my RU buddies. We're like family. And once we realized exactly how cystic fibrosis impacts part of our 'family', well....we had to do something.

Here's a little story: one year I roomed with Lori at the RT Convention. Just listening to her on the phone with her husband--who was at home with the kids--dealing with their necessary daily treatments was mind boggling. Puffers and vests and treatments and supplements and enzymes...

CF is not one of those diseases where you take a pill in the a.m. and go on about your business. I had no idea what Lori and other families affected by CF went through on a day-to-day basis.

Since then, I've learned a lot about CF, and I'm hopeful that someday, maybe even soon, they'll find a cure.

I'm so happy that the romance community is doing what they can to help those efforts, and I'm proud to be a part of the RU family!

And I'm really looking forward to seeing Teresa in those fairy wings! Ahhh, the power of friendship....

Anonymous said...

Great blog, Teresa.

I met my best friend Haby freshman year while attending college in Boston. We were both as poor as church mice at the time and she'd been invited to a senior dance but had nothing to wear. Since she could sew she decided to make a gown but not from a pattern. She wanted "designer." This date was really important.

So she talked me into going with her to Saks--a store I had never dared even step into--where she tried on gown after gown until she found the one she wanted. She then had me stand guard before the dressing room while she turn the thing inside out and examined every seam and stitch. I swear those were the longest two hours of my life as I stood there--totally out of my element, wearing my Wal-Mart cutoffs and carrying a vinyl purse that had seen better day--fending off one snooty sales lady after the other.

When Haby finally came out of the dressing room, she handed the sales lady who was glaring at me the gown and said "Sorry but this isn't what I had in mind." The woman was NOT impressed.

Haby then hauled me down a dirty alley to a fabric warehouse. (I've yet to figure out how she even knew about the place, much less where it was, since she resided in NJ and had only been in the city a few months.) Anyway, arms loaded we arrived at the dorm, where she asked me to make her excuses to our professors. She then disappeared into her room for three days.

When she emerged the gown was finished and you never would have known it wasn't the original. Two years later she made another gown, this time for her wedding to the guy who took her to that dance.


Debra Parmley said...

Taking a little break from my writing to come visit, because this year was the first time I'd heard of Unleash Your Story, so I wanted to learn more. I first saw Teresa post about it on Facebook just last week and thought what a wonderful idea! I met Teresa through RWAonline and know what a kind and generous soul she is.

The event for me that turned a group of strangers into friends was the American Title II contest. We formed a Yahoo group and became close very quickly. We formed a blog called Title Wave and though we aren't actively posting on it now, most of the sister remain in touch on that Yahoo group privately.

Craziest thing I've done to help a friend was to give up something I really wanted because she needed it more.

Teresa, can't wait to see you in that fairy costume! I'll be at RT next year for sure. Columbus OH is where I was born and my parents live in Springfield, which is close. So I'll stay on afterward to visit with family. I'm down near Memphis so I don't get to see them often.

Now back to the writing! Everyone is ahead of me since I spent last weekend at Heather Grahams Writers for New Orleans. These fingers need to type fast!

Sally MacKenzie said...

Oh, Sandy, what a great story! I'm with you--I would have been mighty intimidated standing guard. (Side note--my "baby" is now a college student in Boston.)

Hey, Debra, I hear that American Title experience can be pretty intense. I can certainly see it bringing you all together--if it didn't drive you all crazy, lol. Now I think I'll follow your good example and get down to writing.

Lori Devoti said...

Hi, everyone!! I wanted to say that Terry really doesn't give herself enough credit in this blog. She pretty much does everything for this event! And being the mother of two kids with CF I really appreciate both her efforts and everyone who participates.
It's really hard having a doctor tell you your 7 month old baby has a fatal disease, but the efforts of the cystic fibrosis foundation have not only improved people with CF's day to day lives they have drastically increased their median life expectancy.
Thanks to all. And if you have any questions about CF, I'm happy to answer them.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is to help my dad really. I am the President of the Board of Dir. for the San Diego chapter of JDRF. Trying to raise money to find a cure for diabetes! It is crazy cause I do that on top of writing, and a day job. My husband definitely thinks I am crazy!

Teresa Bodwell said...

Hi Sandy--

What a great story. Thanks for sharing.

dyockman--thanks for your good work for diabetes. The Romance Unleash authors also support the annual Brenda Novak auction for diabetes--last year we donated an Unleash Your Story bag full of books. :-)

Debra and Debbie--isn't the internet a wonderful way to make and keep friends? Sometimes I think my in person friends feel neglected because I spend more time with my online friends. :-)

Teresa Bodwell said...

I wanted to mention another friend of mine--Michelle Baker (another Michelle B). Most of my non-author friends are Girl Scouts and Michelle was one of my co-leaders when the girls were in high school.

Over the years we have both done some crazy things together--camping in the snow comes to mind. Like me, Michelle is a Southern California girl by birth who has never really adjusted to Montana winters. But our troop loved Nite Trek--a co-ed camping experience in Canada the first weekend in May. We had snow on more than one occasion. The girls used to call Michelle the Michelin man because she looked sort of puffy in this huge down jacket she would wear over a thousand other layers.

You know you have a true friend when you say--how would like to donate a quilt to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. See we need a spectacular top prize and your quilts--well--they are spectacular.

So, Michelle spent the summer making the Hug a Cowboy quilt for us to give away. It is a work of art. Check it out on the prizes page at

Phoebe Belsley said...

Teresa in fairy wings--nice! I hope she gets a sparkly crown, too, for being the driving force behind this entire fundraiser. It wouldn't have gotten off the ground without her considerable effort and determination.

I hope to see tons of bellas participating!

Kathleen Long said...

Waving hello to the Bellas and all of my RU buddies. ;o) I'm the one whose new baby my RU pals welcomed into the world with boxes and boxes of goodies and tons of love and hugs along the way. That was three and a half years ago, and since that time...well...let's just say motherhood has a way of cutting down on your writing and online time. ;o)

My heart always goes out to Lori when I take a step back and think about all she does on a daily basis for her family and her beautiful children.

My heart also goes out to Terry who truly is the driving force--and heart--behind the Unleash Your Story campaign.

For me, the campaign is not only a way to support an amazing and important foundation and cause, it's also a way to get my fingers on the keyboard. I was just shy of my 5K weekly goal last week and now that the previously mentioned tiny tot and I are home from our summer at the beach (rough...I know) I intend to crank out those words and reel in those donations!

Join in the fun, gang! You won't be sorry. ;o)

And Michelle, as always, thanks for simply being you.

Kathleen Long said...

Omigosh...I forgot to say one of the most important things.

TB in fairy wings?! There is NO WAY I'm missing that! ;o))

Teresa Bodwell said...

Hey Kath--your sweet little girl would never interrupt your writing time, I'm sure.

Yikes--the image of me in fairy wings is getting creepier the more I think about it.

Before y'all nominate me for sainthood, I'm going to start outing some of you for all you have done. Did you guys know our own Caroline Linden designed the UYS logo? Yup. She's very artistic and a whiz with Photoshop. And if the Halloween pics I've seen of her kids are any indication, she could make a really fine fairy costume herself.

Kathleen Long has an UYS team going at Writers At Play. Lori Devoti, Kristina Cook and Kate Rothwell also lead teams. And just about all of the RU authors have donated books (lots and lots of books) and set their own writing and fund raising goals.

This is not a one woman show. It could never possibly be. That's one reason we're here today--in hopes that you will help us spread the word and bring in more participants and more donors.

The only way to reach the goal we've set is for a lot of people to each share a little bit of the load.

If 500 people each either raise or donate $46 we will have our $23,000. See $23,000 sounds like a huge amount and it is. But $46 is a number I can wrap my mind around. All we're trying to do is find those 500 compassionate souls.

pjpuppymom said...

Hi All! Today was hospital volunteer day and now I'm getting ready for church family night so just have a minute to post. I participated last year and am participating again this year as a member of the Chocolate Mafia team. We're working hard to meet our goals and I'm very grateful to all of my generous Week #1 donors. Now if I can just keep that pace going! :)

Y'all do a great job of organizing Unleash Your Story, Teresa and I'm proud to be a part of the team.


Teresa Bodwell said...

Thanks, PJ. We do appreciate your efforts as well as the whole Chocolate Mafia.

Chocolate Mafia is the leading team after week one, but it looks like the Cystic Gal team and Team RBTB are right on your heels. It should be a great race!

Teresa Bodwell said...

It's starting to get dark here in Columbus, Ohio. Before the day is over, I want to send a big thank you to the Bellas and to everyone who stopped by to chat today. Thanks for welcoming us.

And a special thanks to Michelle B. for acting as our Pacesetter Reader and leading Team RBTB. I hope you all reach your goals, whatever they may be. Thanks again for your support!

Asylumgirl said...

Our community recently experienced the murder of a teenager about to be a sophomore. We all have shown our care and concern regardless of race or other differences.


Mint said...

I have always supported good causes because I am eternally grateful that my kids were born healthy. Recently my family experienced the wonderful caring and help from Childrens Miracle Network. My oldest daughter had tried for 7 years to get pregnant and she finally managed it late last year. When she was 23 weeks along she had was is called an imcompetant cervix and couldn't maintain the pregnancy. All the doctors gave us no hope for baby girls survival. She came out fighting at 1 pound and 2.7 ounces and was 11 1/2 inches long. Our sweet baby girl spent 4 months in the NICU and she came home mid July. She is doing great. She is our miracle. Childrens Miracle Network supports our wonderful NICU and offered help to my daughter if she needed any. They were great. So I now have personal experience of this charity and how it works and I truly will never feel the same way about organizations like this. They really do care.

Unknown said...

Yes I went back to school when I was in my late forties and bonder with a group of ladies. I we would meet several times a week to work on our home work. We did do some crazy things a few time that I want mention but it was a lot of fun.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, Bellas! You all have been shakin things up around here today. So cool to see you Romance Unleashed women here! Brava, ladies! (and, yes, we're allowed to use as many exclamation points as we want in comment boxes)!

Your stories of friendship are lovely to hear; if there's one thing I love even more than hearing my girlfriends gossip about friends of theirs I'll never meet, it's stories about the way women bond with their friends.

We often talk about the strength of the Internet to connect women in the ways our mothers and grandmothers were able to at the daily kaffee klatch or over the backyard fence. So it's really powerful to know that not only did the RU authors come together to support one another, but they've reached out to help others with this event.

I can't thank you enough, and special thanks to Teresa for working hard, being gracious and trying to deflect praise and for taking the time to gather everyone to visit today.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the event. I'm at around 4K pages, but I can't seem to remember to keep my word count. d'oh!

And thanks to folks who've signed up or donated today. :)

Irene said...

I am proud to be a member of RU. Let me tell you a little about these wonderful women, please!
I am currently finishing up my second battle with cancer. The first wasn't too awful, only radiation, but this second one left me bedridden, unable to do much of anything but watch television. When my RU buddies found out, the flowers, presents, books and good wishes came rolling in to me. I could actually feel their love and I am positive it got me through some of the darkest hours of the 9 months of chemotherapy.
You can feel love, you can feel support, no matter where it comes from. Coast to coast, I have friends. I love them more than I can say.
Our efforts on behalf of cystic fibrosis may only be a drop in the bucket compared to what is accomplished for other horrible diseases that affect children, but every single little bit that can help the doctors and scientists find a cure is important. Please, please help! Sign up, read, write, donate. (And win some of the terrific prizes we have for you!)

Teresa Bodwell said...

Thanks, Irene. Big hugs. Take care.